Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2047 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Winnunga after some fairly significant lobbying by Matilda House, who is out there lobbying still.
But there is a real focus on Winnunga, and we are all aware that, as a result of the rate of growth of the Winnunga service, it has outgrown its current facility. The director, Julie Tong told me at some stage last year that there are now between 22 and 25 employees working out of the Winnunga Nimmityjah facility. At the time the facility was created at Ainslie it was welcomed and embraced by the indigenous community, and it still is. The facility has an enormously warm and strong place in the hearts of the indigenous community, but there is a genuine issue there.
Winnunga, with combined Commonwealth-ACT funding, is currently developing a strategic and operational plan to identify the needs of the local indigenous community-an important piece of work in terms of the decisions the government will take in relation to indigenous health in the near future. Work on the development of that strategic plan has not been completed yet. Consultants have been engaged, and I look forward very much to their report.
As Mr Smyth said, there are programs across the board in the ACT that are designed to deal directly with issues of importance to the indigenous community: youth welfare, the interface between indigenous people and the criminal justice system and the very high levels of incarceration and arrest of indigenous people. We need a cohesive way of dealing with all these issues.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Chief Minister 's time has expired.
MS DUNDAS (4.33): I also rise to speak on this matter of public importance. We all know that Aboriginal people have the shortest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rate of any group in the Australian community, and we all know that poor health is closely correlated to lack of life opportunities. Low incomes and low levels of education certainly hamper the capacity of Aboriginal people to attain and maintain good health. But the reasons go deeper. They go back to unresolved business between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
The ACT government has acknowledged its sorrow over the stolen generations and, through gestures such as the new signs at the ACT border, has recognised that we work and live on Aboriginal land. But the Australian Democrats believe that acts of a more substantial nature are required to give the indigenous people of the ACT the political and social recognition that they need to overcome a long history of disadvantage.
Most non-Aboriginal people still benefit from Aboriginal dispossession through laws supporting inherited property. Very few Aboriginal people were awarded titles to land under European law at the time of European invasion, so they had no land that they could pass on to their children. In this way equity and wealth were institutionalised when Aboriginal people were dispossessed.
Further injustices were done to Aboriginal people when we took children away from their families, causing immeasurable grief and huge cultural damage. We see the legacies of dispossession and separated families in today's high rate of suicide and mental health problems in the indigenous population. The effects of dispossession and family